New York State IPM Program

September 22, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Cover Crop’s Double Success for Soybeans

Cover Crop’s Double Success for Soybeans

photo of cereal rye grass cover crop

Mature fields of grain crops moving in the wind is a lovely sight. Having admired the beauty of ‘cereal rye’ in a field, I asked NYSIPM Integrated Weed Management Specialist Dr. Bryan Brown if rye has been part of successful weed suppression efforts.

The answer is yes, but even better, there’s anti-fungal benefits too.

Bryan shared this link to a 2019 published research paper for Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. Rolled-crimped cereal rye residue suppresses white mod in no-till soybean and dry bean.

Few of us are weed scientists, but we value successes that reduce pesticide use and labor costs. In layman’s terms, planting soybeans after a crop of cereal rye means growers have a mulch in place (easier than bringing in straw). Decomposing rye steals nitrogen from the soil. Bad news for hungry weeds, but soybeans, like other legumes, fix their own nitrogen from the air. But there’s more.

photo of crimped and rolled cover crop in a row of soybean seedlings

Four key Cornell researchers, Sarah Pethybridge, Bryan Brown, Julie Kikkert, and  Matthew Ryan, ran a no-till soybean trial during the 2016-2017 field seasons. Winter annual cover crops (crops that grow robustly enough to reduce weed sprouting and success) are knocked down in springtime with a mechanical ‘roller-crimper’. Crimping kills the stalks.

In this case, soybeans and dry beans were then planted directly—without soil cultivation—into the crimped and rolled cereal rye cover crop field

cover crop trial photo

Why ‘no-till’? According to Cornell’s Organic program, “Overreliance on soil tillage and cultivation in soybean production can degrade soil health. Although often effective at reducing weed competition and associated yield losses, moldboard plowing and interrow cultivation are also very time consuming. Such practices can also leave soil vulnerable to soil erosion from heavy rain events, which have increased in frequency in New York.”

weed seedlngs popping up where cover crop is not shading soil

No till is often seen as a way to reduce germination of weed seeds. In the case, reduced germination of White Mold’s  sclerotia occured because they aren’t brought up to the surface through cultivation.

White Mold Life Cycle – try to keep up…  It’s an endless cycle so we’ll start in the winter when things are slow. White mold disease, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, survives the winter as sclerotia, a hardened fungal pellet. Sclerotia are long lived and survive in the soil. In spring, sclerotia wake up and, where they’re near the soil surface, germinate via little cup-like growths that form and spew ascopores (microscopic spores) into the air. Ascopores land on blossoms and infect the plants. If conditions are right, sclerotia may also skip spore production and germinate directly in the soil with mycelium infecting nearby plant stems. Either way the fungal disease spreads through the plant and neighboring plants, showing up as lesions and wilting. White mold gets its name from that white fluffy mycelia that may be seen on stems in the crop canopy. Later in the season, mycelia harden off into sclerotia to prepare for another cycle through the winter.

In these research trials, overall biomass of soybean crop was lowered (the dry bean biomass was greater in the rye), but the actual amount of harvested beans was higher due to reduced loss from white mold.

photo of white mold on soybeans

White mold infected soybean stem. (Photo by J. Cummings, NYS IPM)

Traditionally, the only real ‘tool’ against white mold was fungicides. But timing, rates, density of crop canopy, and fungicide-resistance meant results could vary. And, for organic farmers, the options were very limited.

Why did this cover crop reduce this disease? The crimped rye cover crop reduced germination of sclerotia and therefore reduced spores. Researchers also felt this could exhaust inoculum in the soil therefore reducing disease in subsequent crops. But disease pressure on crops is always a combination of what’s surviving in the soil or on plant material, agricultural methods used by the grower and weather. Only some of that can be controlled.

As a weed fighter, rolled-crimped cereal rye seems to reduce or manage populations of herbicide-resistant weeds in trials by other researchers. More steps forward for reduced pesticide use! Its use as a cover crop works the way other mulches work–as a barrier for weeds to have to push through. Mulch shades the ground, reducing the number of weeds that germinate, since many have a germination response based on sunlight.

No till cover crops are not the answer for everything, but in this case, researchers found it gave a one-two punch against weeds and diseases!

Thanks for sharing this success with us, Bryan.

graphic showing photo of Bryan Brown and his information. Email him at b r y a n dot b r o w n at cornell dot edu

August 3, 2020
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Back to School – Keeping the Rodents Outside

Back to School – Keeping the Rodents Outside

We should have little trouble with vermin if builders would hear and understand the ‘language’ of vermin and do a better job in eliminating their entrances and hiding place.” – Hugo Hartnak, 1939

photo of Bobby Corrigan wearing a hard hat, holding a clipboard in one hand and a flashlight in the other pointing out a rusted wall grid plate with a hole large enough for a rat to fit through.

For Bobby Corrigan, pest management is a passion. Called upon for his expertise across the country, we are honored to include him in our conference.

Pests enter school buildings in one of two ways: they are transported in by students, staff, or delivery truck or they make their way in from the outside. The School IPM 2020: Where We’ve Been and What’s Next virtual conference will focus on the first mode, but we will also include information on the second with tips, and a tool, to help with exclusion – or keeping pests out of buildings. Dr. Bobby Corrigan, co-founder of the first Scientific Coalition on Pest Exclusion, will join us to discuss rodent vulnerable areas.

Continue Reading →

June 24, 2020
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Pollinator Friendly… Lawns?

Pollinator Friendly… Lawns?

“The dandelions and buttercups gild all the lawn: the drowsy bee stumbles among the clover tops, and summer sweetens all to me.” –  James Russell Lowell
bumblebee on white clover

Dandelions, clover, and many other lawn weeds can help sustain pollinators.

It’s Pollinator Week, a week dedicated to halting and reversing the decline in pollinator populations and recognizing the valuable service they provide.

There are plenty of resources out there to create pollinator gardens and meadows. NYSIPM biocontrol specialist Amara Dunn has been documented an ongoing project trying to create habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects to help support agricultural systems in her blog, Biocontrol Bytes. Head over and check out her efforts.

But what about places that can’t allow tall vegetation because of space, inability to weed areas, or aesthetics? Lindsey Christiansen, CCE Albany and I decided to explore the recommendation to create pollinator friendly lawns.

Many recommendations prompt us to allow spontaneous lawn flowers (weeds have attained a PR manager) to flourish. A Massachusetts study found 63 plant species in untreated lawns. In a parallel study looking at mowing and pollinators, they found that lazy lawn mowing led to more spontaneous lawn flowers leading to more pollinators.

But Lindsey and I were wondering if there was a more formal way to create a pollinator friendly lawn. We searched out and found a number of seed mixes and a project was born.

“The best laid plans of mice and men…” – Robert Burns

While fall is a great time to put down seed, we solidified our plans in October, leaving us with little time. We decided to spend the remainder of autumn prepping the plots and wait until winter to put the seed down through dormant overseeding. We laid out three rows of 100 sq.ft. plots. The first row was scalped by running the CCE lawn tractor over it at its lowest height of cut. The second row was stripped using a sod cutter, and the third row was aerified multiple times using a core aerifier to break up the soil and create open soil.

Three rows of five plots are shown against a satellite view of CCE Albany. The first row was scalped, the second was cut with a sod cutter, and the third was aerified.

The demonstration project was established in an unused part of the CCE Albany property which allows for road visibility.

Two rows were prepped using a sod cutter and aerifier rented from a local hardware store.

Removing sod cut with a sod cutter is much easier when you have good turf. The weedy lawn proved a challenge to remove.

 

Synchronized seeding

And then it was time to wait. Ideally, we would have a stretch of bare ground in March with a few inches of snow in the forecast. So we waited. And waited some more. But it was a winter that wasn’t and as the forecast showed above average temperatures into the future, we decided to scatter the seed on March 6 with hopes that winter would provide a last gasp.

This table lists the seed mixes used in the study and what species are listed. MN Native Landscape Bee Lawn Mix includes Sheep Fescue, Hard Fescue, Chewings Fescue, Creeping Red Fescue Dutch White Clover, Creeping Thyme, Self-Heal; PT 705 Xeriscape Lawn Alternative includes Banfield Perennial Ryegrass, Eureka II Hard Fescue, Quatro Tetraploid Sheep Fescue White Yarrow, Dutch White Clover, Strawberry Clover, Sweet Alyssum; PT 755 Fleur de Lawn includes Banfield Perennial Ryegrass, Eureka II Hard Fescue, Quatro Tetraploid Sheep Fescue White Yarrow, White Clover, Baby Blue Eyes, Sweet Alyssum, Strawberry Clover, English Daisy; American Meadows Alternative Lawn Wildflower Seed Mix includes Sheep Fescue Roman Chamomile, English Daisy, Yellow Daisy, Creeping Daisy, Dwarf California Poppy, Sweet Alyssum, Five Spot, Baby Blue Eyes, Soapwort, Creeping Thyme, Strawberry Clover, Johnny Jump-Up; and Agway Conservation Green includes Perennial ryegrasses, Red Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass White Clover

Five seed mixes were chosen for the demonstration project. For dormant overseeding, it is recommended that you double the rate, but we were sometimes restricted by the amount of seed we could purchase within our budget.

Snow cover on the dormant overseeded plots.

Winter finally threw us a bone on March 24th. The theory behind dormant overseeding is the weight of the snow pushes the seed close to the soil and as it melts into the soil, it draws the seed down with it through capillary action. The snow also protects the seed from predation. We can only guess how much seed to we lost to birds over those weeks.

And then it was time to wait again. And we were waiting in our homes due to the shutdown. So it was exciting to visit the site in early June and find baby blue eyes, dwarf California poppy, and sweet alyssum in bloom. The plot we were most worried about due to the small rate of application had the most visual pop.

flowering baby blue eyes and California poppy in the sod cut plot

The sod cut plot seeded with Alternative Lawn Wildflower Seed Mix was the most dramatic despite having the lightest rate of application.

green bee on baby blue eye blossom

And there were pollinators!

Lindsey Christiansen is pinning a clear plastic sheet down over existing lawn.

Solarization is an IPM technique using the sun to create high temperatures to kill existing vegetation.

We also started a fourth row, this time using solarization to prep the site. Plastic sheeting heats up the soil, killing existing plants and the seedlings of any weed seeds that germinate over the summer. We will keep the sheeting in place until it’s time to seed in the fall.

The recent hot, dry weather has not helped with establishment and there’s not currently much going on in the plots. So we are back to waiting and seeing.

And crossing our fingers that the forecast holds and we get rain by the weekend.

picture showing from left to right - plastic sheeting, aerated row, sod cut, and scalped row row

At the end of June, after a week of heat and humidity but no rain, there is not much flowering except for birdsfoot trefoil. For the record, birdsfoot trefoil was not in any of our seed mixes.

Many thanks to Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County for use of the site, Lindsey Christiansen for her partnership and strong back (and for checking my math), and Matt Warnken for scalping, hauling, sod cutting, photographing, and basically making himself indispensable.

 

 

 

 

May 20, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on World BEE Day 2020

World BEE Day 2020

Protecting bees and other pollinators has become an important social issue. But beekeeping, and the 20,000 species of bees worldwide, have been providing livelihoods, much of our food supply, and important biodiversity for thousands of years.  Today, we help celebrate the first official World Bee Day as proclaimed by the U.N. through their food and agriculture organization.

poster of world bee day

We’ve collected some of our blog posts supporting pollinator protection (see below). First, here’s some facts from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization:

HONEY: Honey is a nutritious, healthy and natural food produced by the bees. Its benefits go beyond its use as a sweetener as it contains several minerals, enzymes, vitamins and proteins that confer unique nutritious and organoleptic properties. Honey can be monofloral if one specific plant nectar and pollen content prevails in pre-defined percentages or polyfloral if it contains an unspecified mix of different nectars and pollens. Due to environmental, geographical and climatic conditions honey may vary in pollen content and relative humidity. Honey is produced in all five continents and its consumption varies from country to country also due to cultural reasons and eating habits.

HIVE PRODUCTS: Honey bees may provide livelihood or a source of income for many beekeepers all over the world. This could happen through the services provided by the bees (mainly pollination service, apitherapy and apitourism), or directly through the bee products. The last include: alive bees to guarantee always new queen bees or bee packs, honey, pollen, wax, propolis, royal jelly and venom. Bee products may be used as food for humans, feed for animals, cosmetics, medicines used in conventional medicine (mainly vaccination), or in apitherapy, or other like manifold products, carpentry, attractant, sweeteners, etc.

benefits of pollinators poster

POLLINATORS: Disappearing pollinators can mean losing some of the nutritious food we need for a healthy diet. The decline of pollinators could have disastrous effects for our future of food. Their absence would jeopardize the three-quarters of the world’s crops that depend at least in part on pollination, including apples, avocadoes, pears and pumpkins. And enhancing pollination isn’t just about mitigating disaster – with improved management, pollination has the potential to increase agricultural yields and quality. Pollinators also play a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing biodiversity thus improving the resilience of plants to climate change and other environmental threats.

photo of bee

THE NYS IPM Program is proud to consider POLLINATOR PROTECTION part of our focus. Visit these topics on this blog, the Think IPM Blog:

Pollinater Protection Resources

A virtual visit to an educational Pollinator Garden

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Jen Lerner and her focus on pollinator protection

Right Plant, Right Place – for Pollinators

Planning for Pollinators

Pollinator Week, 2017

photo of bee on flower

AND MORE posts specific to Pollinator Protection from BIOCONTROL BYTES:

Habitat for beneficial insects (including pollinators) at home

Details of what plants were chosen for our beneficial insect research plots

Just how much time goes into establishing beneficial insect habitat?

 

 

 

 

May 15, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report #7 Organic Farming…and Don’t Get Ticked NY

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report #7 Organic Farming…and Don’t Get Ticked NY

Stubborn Pests: Organic Solutions

All crops have pests. Managing them on certified organic farms is firmly rooted in IPM practices such as crop rotation, sanitation, and the use of pest-resistant varieties. In fact, it’s written into the regulations. But despite the best IPM prevention practices, pesticides are still needed for certain stubborn pests. With organic vegetable production gaining in importance in New York—a 28% increase in the number of farms from 2011 to 2016—growers have an even greater need for objective information about allowed pest management products.

To provide that info, we teamed up with Cornell AgriTech faculty members Chris Smart, Brian Nault, and Tony Shelton to conduct trials. At the end of nine years, we have many successes that are effective options for cucurbit powdery mildew, squash vine borer, worms on brassicas, potato leafhopper, and others.

Alas, some pests still have us stymied, namely striped cucumber beetle and cucurbit downy mildew, so pesticide testing will continue. Next up, we focus on pests, beneficials, and weed IPM in organic squash production systems. And, to accommodate the increasing number of researchers working in organic systems, we’re helping Cornell AgriTech transition 24 acres of research fields into certified organic production. IPM and organic: natural partners.

Photo of striped cucumber beetle

(Above) Double damage. The sharp-dressed striped cucumber beetle causes direct damage, massing on newly emerged or transplanted seedlings and sometimes chewing them to the ground, while also transmitting a sometimes-fatal bacterial wilt.

Don’t Get Ticked NY!

image of illustrated child with tick on skin

(Above) Ticks prefer moist, warm places. Teach children to make tick-checks a personal habit—the last defense against disease transmission. Knowing the spots and bumps on their skin helps them recognize new ones—new ones that happen to have legs.

Ticks are really ticking off New Yorkers worried about Lyme disease, the United States’ number one vector-borne pathogen. It’s transmitted by the blacklegged tick found abundantly throughout our state. This particular pest can also spread diseases like anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus. Unfortunately, additional tick species abound, and together, the many illnesses they can cause are serious threats to human health. That’s why NYSIPM is committed to reducing the impact of these little blood-suckers.

Recognizing our ability to effectively convey key risk-reducing strategies, the NYS Senate’s Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases joined the fight by funding our Don’t Get Ticked NY campaign. We provide easy-to-understand information at the website, and distribute ID cards, infographics and tick removal kits to educators and the public statewide through community events, extension offices and BOCES. Last year we handed out almost 50,000 tick ID cards, a few thousand tick removal kits, and directly reached over 5,000 people.

“Tick-educated” New Yorkers now recognize tick habitats, and—rather than avoid the outdoors—now know how to look and feel for ticks during their daily tick check. While threats from ticks continue to increase, so does New Yorkers’ awareness of how to stave them off. So please … don’t get ticked, New York.

photo shows items inside a tick kit: magnifier, pointy tweezers, tick identification card, alchol swabs, small mirror for checking hard to see places, small zip loc bag to place tick in if found. All parts of a tick kit that is a small zippered pouch to keep handy when going outside.

(Above) Get the pointy. Our Don’t Get Ticked New York Tick Kits are popular handouts at events across the state. You can make your own by gathering pointy tweezers, a magnifier, a mirror, alcohol wipes, and a vial or plastic bag to store the offender. But kits won’t help you if you don’t have them nearby. Our tick cards are the perfect resource to have on hand, and you can print out the same graphics from our website at www.DontGetTickedNY.org.

May 12, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report #6- Certified Crop Advisor Training; Saving the Douglas-fir

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report #6- Certified Crop Advisor Training; Saving the Douglas-fir

Certifiably IPM

Growers and crop consultants need training like everyone else, so they go to school. The Northeast Region Certified Crop Advisers (NRCCA) offer regional and international certifications. NRCCA has online courses and a three-day intensive training conference covering four competency areas. And did we mention exams? Becoming a certified crop advisor takes dedication.

The curriculum covers the management of crops, soil, nutrients, and of course, IPM. NRCCA hosts experts from several universities and representatives from agribusiness who come together annually to facilitate basic and advanced trainings.

NYSIPM is integral to NRCCA training. We offer cutting-edge advanced instruction to students on how to scout for weeds, insects, and crop diseases, along with the latest environmentally-sound management recommendations. NYSIPM has become increasingly involved in field crops and vegetable training, and we now sit on the NRCCA exam board. We developed basic training video content for the IPM, plant pathology, and entomology components of the curriculum. It includes advanced field crops topics like our biologically-based bird repellant project, scouting 101, cereal leaf beetle biocontrol, and the soybean cyst nematode. We also helped NRCCA expand beyond the typical field crops arena by organizing a half-day Vegetable IPM School.

NYSIPM’s involvement in NRCCA training is an outstanding opportunity to reach industry representatives, crop consultants, custom applicators, farmers, academics, and soil and water conservation district staff with the IPM message. That’s certifiably IPM!

photo show people scouting for pests in a mature corn field

(Above) Pest management is an ever-changing challenge. New pests, cultural practices, and availability of products mean there’s always something to learn.

All I Want for Christmas

Everybody loves a Douglas-fir. Dignified and triangular, they have soft bluish-green needles and are native to temperate rainforests in the United States. Though not a true fir, they are the most Christmassy of Christmas trees for many. And Doug-fir has been popular with growers because of its resistance to deer damage, tolerance for warmer climates and wet soils, adaptability, and ability to grow quickly. That’s why it’s an important part of New York’s multimillion-dollar evergreen tree farming industry.

But Doug-fir has fallen out of favor with tree farmers because of Swiss needle cast disease—a fungal infection that makes the tree lose its needles and its holiday value. This iconic tree has gotten a reputation among growers for needing numerous and costly sprays.

What if this were not the case, and Doug-firs could be maintained with minimal sprays? NYSIPM ran on-farm trials and found that one or two well-timed sprays with good coverage were just as effective as the four or five sprays many growers currently apply.

Likewise, growers who adopted the reduced spray regimen report good results.

Beautiful trees and reduced pesticide applications? That gives everyone a Merry Christmas.

photo of a douglas fir christmas tree farm

Douglas-fir Christmas Tree Farm

May 11, 2020
by Matt Frye
Comments Off on Rats in the time of Coronavirus Isolation

Rats in the time of Coronavirus Isolation

As an entomologist that specializes in pest management, the Coronavirus outbreak has resulted in some unique concerns. Recent attention has focused on how human isolation affects rodent populations, but other challenges await. Fear of food shortages led residents to stock up on items like flour, rice and pasta. With grocery store shelves restocked and a food shortage not realized, this hoarding behavior creates the perfect storm for pantry pest problems. Without proper storage in tightly sealed containers, these insects can infest forgotten items and result in ironic food waste, created by fear of a food shortage.

A group of rats eat spilled food from a plastic container during the daytime in an urban area.

Urban rats feeding on spilled food.

But for now, let us turn to the issue at hand – rats, and specifically urban rats. Across the country, as people retreated to their homes to isolate, once cryptic rats emerged to forage in broad daylight. Observers noted rats fighting over food, cannibalizing each other (muricide) and their offspring (infanticide), and moving to new locations. Sensational headlines talk of angry, mutant super rats, but what is really happening?

A rat standing on the edge of a metal garbage can with food in its mouth.

Rat feeding on food waste from a park garage can.

Let’s take a step back. Before humans were isolating, abundant food waste from restaurants, trash cans in parks, subways and housing areas provided nourishment to sustain large urban rat populations. Seemingly overnight, however, those predictable resources disappeared. The outcome is a struggle for survival and a thinning of the herd as large populations are challenged by limited resources. This is a case study on tenets of the Theory of Natural Selection, but is it enough to change the evolutionary trajectory of rats to create super rats? Definitely not. Modern rats are opportunistic animals that are already adapted to deal with food shortages. Movement to new areas and cannibalism are known rat behaviors, made obvious on a large scale during this pandemic. While it may feel longer, people have only been isolating for about two months in the US, enough time for one to two rat generations. Meanwhile, rat evolution has occurred over thousands of generations to create the “diabolically clever” animal we face today.

The truly important question we should ask ourselves is, how should we respond? The pandemic has provided an opportunity for people to see exactly how our behaviors and our management of food waste affects rodent populations. Indeed, we are the cause of our rodent problems. What steps can we take to manage rodent populations today and into the future?

To start, now is the ideal time for municipalities and pest professionals to work together to reduce rodent populations. Rats are stressed for food, making them more likely to feed on rodenticide baits and interact with baited traps. Efforts should be coordinated to the scale of the rodent population. For example, in New York City, data from the Rat Information Portal can guide management and direct adequate attention to areas with high rat pressure – rather than waste resources elsewhere. Furthermore, efforts must consider the management unit that will impact the rodent population. Whereas contracted pest management companies may service an individual store front or building, the rodent problem may span an entire block between nesting and feeding sites.

Now is also the time for building owners and managers to assess their facilities for pest entry points, and to use appropriate materials to seal openings. Not all materials are rodent-proof, and guidance on selecting the appropriate materials can be found on the Scientific Coalition on Pest Exclusion’s website. Keeping pests out of facilities is the best approach to minimizing exposure to rodent-borne disease and the physical damage that rodents cause by gnawing.Logo of the Scientific Coalition on Pest Exclusion. The letter O is made to look like a magnifying glass, with a silhouette of a rat inside the O. The bigger challenge is to devise long-term strategies that will reduce rodent access to food waste. If, upon lifting social distancing restrictions we return to “business as usual,” with trash bags left on street corners overnight, we will see a rapid return of rat populations and lose any ground we gained in the war on vermin. Certainly pest proof refuse containers would help, but not all solutions require an expense. Changes in the pickup schedule for food waste, the timing of when trash is placed on the street, how and where refuse is stored before disposal, and other considerations can be tweaked to minimize food availability for rats.

The Coronavirus pandemic will not create super rats, but can help us in the fight to reduce their populations and impacts – if we choose to do so.

graphic showing Dr Matt Frye

May 8, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #5 Pollinator Habitat, and NEWA

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #5 Pollinator Habitat, and NEWA

If You Build It, Will They Come?

Dwindling bee numbers is a problem. The question is not should we protect pollinators and create habitat, but how? What’s the best method? The most economical? The best bee habitats—made up of plants of varying sizes and bloom times—are easy on the eye. They’re also excellent real estate for other helpers, like spiders and certain beetles, that eat pests. So can pollinator habitats provide biocontrol benefits too?

To answer these questions, our team set up pollinator habitat plots around our Christmas tree research planting—testing establishment methods, evaluating weeds, counting and identifying the insects attracted, and studying the biocontrol value to the trees.

photo of echinacea flowers in a field

ABOVE: Flowers providing pollen or nectar are important to both pollinators and many pest-eating “beneficial” insects. You can help them by choosing a variety of plants that bloom from early spring through late fall with flowers of diverse shapes. This Echinacea makes pollen and nectar readily accessible to both small and large bees, proving that it’s not just their beauty that’s worthy of our admiration.

Wildflower and grass species favored by pollinators were chosen from lists of native perennials. Some started from seed; others were transplants. By the end of the first season, natural enemies and pollinators had arrived—including lady beetles, lacewings, predatory stink bugs, spiders, hoverflies, predatory beetles, butterflies, and many wild bees. This year the plots have matured even more. We collected flying insects with sweep nets, counted butterflies, and caught wasps and bees in brightly colored bowls of soapy water. We even had a method for catching insects moving along the ground.

So far, we have lots of tips for helping growers and gardeners create their own beneficial insect habitat. As to fewer pests in Christmas trees? Time will tell.

What’s New with NEWA?

Are summer conditions becoming more unpredictable? Are you wondering how to make informed and timely decisions about pest management? If you say yes to both, you’re not alone. NEWA, the Network for Environment and Weather Applications, is here to help by providing live, on-farm decision support for fruit, vegetable, and field crops production. NEWA pairs real-time weather data from growers’ fields with online crop-specific pest forecasting. And it’s growing every year.

Developed by scientists with pest biology expertise, NEWA models predict disease progression, insect infestations, and crop phenology. Apple growers rely on apple scab forecasts in the spring, grape growers monitor grape berry moth risk through the summer, and field corn growers track western bean cutworm flights throughout the season to know when to scout.

Our latest survey proves NEWA’s unparalleled decision support to growers is working. Users attest they saved over $4,000 in spray costs and more than $33,000 in prevented crop losses annually.

NEWA partners with extension, industry, and academic partners statewide, including the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program that supports western New York’s Concord grape growers. Thanks to the close collaboration between NYSIPM, growers, and processors, that region benefited from the addition of 11 weather stations last year, a move that nearly doubled their decision-making power. NEWA also joined forces with the NYS Mesonet at the University at Albany, a collaboration that resulted in ten pilot locations across the state.

Today NEWA offers 42 models using data from 677 weather stations in 14 states. NEWA and NYSIPM support agriculture throughout New York and beyond. The latest forecast? The future looks bright.

photo of an Onset weather station

An Onset Weather Station

May 5, 2020
by Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann
Comments Off on Asian Giant Hornets – A Concern for New York?

Asian Giant Hornets – A Concern for New York?

A pinned specimen of a large wasp, the Asian giant wasp from a side view.

Asian giant hornet, pinned. Photo by Allan Smith-Pardo, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

By now many Americans reading or watching the news have heard about “murder hornets” from Asia invading the American landscape. It is true that in many parts of East Asia, Japan in particular, a large hornet lives and feasts upon honey bees and other insects. This is the Asian giant hornet (AGH), or Vespa mandarinia, which is a relative of the European hornet (Vespa crabro) that we typically see in North America. The European hornet is an import to America that has naturalized, or become established here as if it was native. The Asian giant hornet has just arrived on North America’s west coast, by unknown means. Residents and beekeepers alike are hoping it doesn’t become naturalized in America.

Pinned specimen of the large black and yellow Asian giant hornet, seen from above.

Asian giant hornet, Photo by Allan Smith-Pardo, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

The Asian giant hornet is the world’s largest, measuring 1.6 to 2 inches long, with a particularly large yellow-orange head. It is a social insect, living in colonies built in soil burrows dug by rodents and other animals. While people may not often see Asian giant hornets, beekeepers will definitely notice their decimated colonies of honey bees. It takes a handful of Asian giant hornets to slaughter an entire honey bee colony, after which hornets feed on the larvae, pupae and honey inside the hive. Japanese honey bees, which are a different species of honey bee than what we raise in North America, can fight back against AGH by surrounding and super-heating the wasp in a ball of bee bodies. Our European honey bees also have this defense behavior, but it is unknown how they would fare with this kind of predation. If AGH becomes established in the US and Canada, the greatest threat will be to beekeepers and their honey bees.

The hazard to humans posed by the stings of AGH is real. The venom is toxic and with their long stingers, AGH can inject more venom into a wound than most other stinging insects. Stings lead to intense pain and swelling, and can induce renal failure and anaphylaxis. Multiple stings can be deadly. But, these hornets do not come after humans and left alone, they mind their own business. The efforts to eradicate AGH from Washington State and Canada will be a priority aimed at avoiding their permanent establishment in the US. Unlike claims in some media outlets, it will likely take many years for this wasp to spread across the country on its own if we fail to eradicate it. Beekeepers will be on the front lines of detection.

*** June 2020 UPDATE – A dead queen Asian giant hornet was discovered this spring on a road near Custer, WA, which is close to the western Canada border. This indicates that queens produced by at least one colony in the Fall of 2019 overwintered and emerged. To date (6/3/20) no other detections have been reported.

*** August 2020 UPDATE

In 2020, both Washington and Canada have had new confirmed sightings of the Asian giant hornet. In addition to earlier reports, one queen, one worker and another unspecified wasp have been reported. This means we are not done with Asian giant hornets yet! Finding a queen wasp in May suggests that they survived winter in the Pacific Northwest. As colonies of these and related wasps grow in size through the end of summer, there may be more findings to report. Stay Tuned!

There are several species of wasps in the US that are very commonly confused with AGH and often killed unnecessarily:

Cicada KillerSphecius speciosus – a large, native, solitary wasp, does not readily sting or act aggressive toward humans, hunts cicadas, exclusively, digs burrows in the soil where eggs are laid upon the body of paralyzed cicadas. Common in suburban areas.

A cicada killer wasp rests on a green leaf.

Cicada killer wasp, photo by Nancy Hinckle, bugwood.org

 

European HornetVespa crabro – an introduced social species, colonies started by a single queen, colony builds and expands a tan paper ball nest typically in hollow trees and abandoned barns and structures. More common in rural areas. Not aggressive unless harassed.

Pinned specimen of European hornet seen from above

European hornet pinned specimen, photo by Allan Smith-Pardo, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Pinned specimen of European hornet seen from the side

European hornet pinned specimen, photo by Allan Smith-Pardo, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baldfaced hornetDolichovespula maculata – Large black-and-white wasp, not a true hornet, colonies started by a single queen, nest is a grey paper ball usually high in trees or on the side of structures. Not aggressive unless harassed.

A black and white baldfaced hornet on a white background

A baldfaced hornet resting, photo by Johnny N Dell, bugwood.org

Yellowjackets (many species) – Vespula sp. – Small yellow-and-black wasps that nest in large colonies in soil and other man-made cavities. Can be aggressive, especially in early fall.

A yellow and black yellowjacket pinned in a collection.

A “ground hornet” or “widow yellowjacket, photo by J.L. Gangloff-Kaufmann

Paper waspsPolistes sp. – Slightly longer than yellowjackets, various colors, long legs, umbrella comb nest with a few to a few dozen wasps. Not aggressive unless harassed.

A black and yellow European paper wasp sits on a paper nest.

A European paper wasp sits on a paper comb nest. Photo by David Cappaert, bugwood.org

 

The Bottom Line: A few Asian giant hornets were discovered in Washington State in 2019. The greatest threat is to honey bees and beekeepers. Efforts to eradicate this wasp are underway. New York does not have Asian giant wasps and hopefully won’t anytime soon.

Residents of the west coast should keep an eye out for Asian giant hornets and residents of Washington State are strongly encouraged to submit reports of sightings to the Washington State Department of Agriculture. If you live in New York and have questions about wasps or any stinging insects, you can contact NYSIPM or your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office for advice or to submit samples for identification.

 

April 29, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual report: #3 Corn Earworm and Just What is a ‘Short Course’?

Our 2018-2019 Annual report: #3 Corn Earworm and Just What is a ‘Short Course’?

The Year of the Corn Earworm

Nobody likes opening an ear of corn and finding uninvited worms; not customers, and definitely not the grower! Wormy corn can lose customers at the farm stand and in wholesale markets, and can be a problem in both frozen and canned supermarket products. To help growers manage these pests, NYSIPM—in partnership with our Cornell Cooperative Extension colleagues—has supported a network of pheromone traps since 1993. These traps help track the flights of the moths that lay the eggs that hatch into these worms.

In 2018, the trap network alerted growers to an over-the-top population of corn earworm, one of four major sweet corn pests. And because IPM spray recommendations for this pest are based on trap catch numbers, that important data helped New York growers respond effectively to this serious threat to a 33 million dollar crop grown on 26,700 acres. Unfortunately, when a grower or processor finds worms in harvested corn, it’s too late to act—but accurate ID can inform plans for the following season. Essential to success is deciding if and when to spray using the appropriate scouting methods and thresholds for each pest. But accurate ID? Easier said than done! Caterpillars can be hard to identify, especially smaller ones. That’s why we developed a larval ID fact sheet highlighting critical distinguishing features. It’s just another piece of essential information in the quest for worm-free ears.

photo of corn earworm on ear of corn

(Above) Corn earworm invades the ear within hours or days of hatching from eggs laid on the silk, leaving no external damage. For this pest, scouting is ineffective. Pheromone traps that monitor adult flight are the grower’s best defense.

“I” is for Identification.

Good IPM starts with accurate pest identification—ID for short. Whether you see a pest or the evidence it leaves behind, correct ID is essential. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can determine where it’s coming from, the risks it poses, and what conditions must change to eliminate it. Good ID makes IPM work. Even people who deal with pests all the time need to brush up on their ID skills, so we developed a Structural IPM Short Course to hone the diagnostic skills of pest management professionals, Master Gardeners, and others. Participants attend photo-filled lectures and get their hands on hundreds of real specimens. Critters are grouped by guild—their basic ecological niche—such as food pests, moisture-lovers, or blood-feeders. And specimens aren’t just bugs. Rodent droppings and gnawed wood get examined too. To aid learning and retention, we created a companion manual. We’ve offered the course 21 times, teaching the ABCs (you know: ants, bed bugs, and cockroaches) to over 700 people. And our learners learned: over three quarters gained knowledge of pest biology, while 100% improved their ID skills. We identify that as 100% good news for everyone but the pests.

photo shows a classroom setting where master gardeners are learning to ideinty pests

(Above) These Master Gardeners from Rockland County, like their counterparts in 20 other Short Course workshops, left feeling more informed and confident in the IPM knowledge they’ll share with the public. IPM and Cooperative Extension: a perfect pairing.

 

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